A much-desired redevelopment of Wainuiomata's mall has been approved but local politicians are reserving enthusiasm until builders arrive on-site.
Hutt City Council has given resource consent for a major revamp of the 1970-built mall, one of New Zealand's oldest. Auckland-based Oyster Property Group is managing the development on behalf of another Auckland company, mall owner Wainuiomata Shopping Centre Ltd.
The development would see nearly all of the existing mall demolished, apart from Countdown supermarket and The Warehouse. A completely different layout would then be built, with space for 28 shops. Most will lie on an axis between Queen St and The Strand, although 10 will replace part of the abandoned New World and extend south on to existing car parks toward Wainuiomata Rd.
The resulting mall will be 2500 square metres smaller, with 433 car parks, up from 391.
The shopping centre had gone into a decline after its peak in the 1980s and 1990s, Wainuiomata ward councillor Campbell Barry said. In 2012, New World supermarket moved out, at the cost of 44 jobs.
"It's really sad. In its heyday, it was hustling. Not many people set foot inside there now," Barry said.
Oyster group had five years until its resource consent expired, and was unlikely to start development until tenants had signed on, Barry said. "It's very exciting. It's just what Wainuiomata needs, [but] there's still maybe a long way to go until this starts moving."
Mayor Ray Wallace said a set of grand plans to redevelop the mall were trotted out 10 or 15 years ago by a previous mall owner but nothing had materialised.
"People got their hopes up and it didn't happen. I'm holding my enthusiasm until we actually see builders on-site," he said.
Wallace was meeting with Oyster group managers next week to see whether the council could offer any inducements, such as improving roading and intersections around the mall block, he said. Oyster had already had a $3782 resource consent fee waived under a scheme to encourage development.
"I think it's a wonderful opportunity. I should think the community will be very pleased and will be very keen to see it proceed."
Ian Wright, from the mall's body corporate, said planning was in the early stages. "With any upgrade or redevelopment of a property, there is a lot of work that needs to happen before anything tangible can be progressed."
- The Dominion Post
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